Boris plays politics on the TubeMarch 31, 2010
Boris is wise to focus upon the Tube upgrade, since he will be judged by the electorate on whether the Northern Line upgrade is completed by 2012, and the Piccadilly Line upgrade remains on track for 2014. But is his apparent determination to unpick the PPP more about politics than economics? The only truly independent voice on this, the PPP Arbiter considers that while Tube Lines is by no means perfect, London Underground is almost certainly giving worse value for money. If Tube Lines were to be nationalised, it could cost more to deliver the same. Add the upheaval inevitable in any major changes like this and Boris risks spending more taxpayers’ cash for fewer new trains, less replacement signalling and a worse service to London commuters.
Instead of playing politics with the less-than-ideal contract structures, the Mayor, London Underground and their contractor, Tube Lines should be pulling together to deliver the upgrade and varying the PPP agreement to create a better partnership. They should not hide behind a contract. They should be working with all London bodies to persuade the next Government that investing in this vital infrastructure must continue, to Londoners’ long-term benefit and this great capital’s future growth.
Baroness Jo Valentine
Chief Executive of business group, London First